Cover Stories: Wild Swans; The Kite Runner; Jeremy Robson; London Library

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The Independent Culture

Wild Swans, Jung Chang's award-winning bestseller about life in China before, during and after Mao's revolution, is edging its way towards the big screen. Eric Abraham of indie production outfit Portobello Pictures has acquired film rights in the book; Chang has always made it clear that she did not want to lose control to Hollywood. Abraham will produce; Christopher Hampton will write the screenplay. Wild Swans was written in English,but Abraham plans to make the movie in Chinese, and Hampton will work with a Mandarin dialect writer.

Meanwhile, Khaled Hosseini's Afghan bestseller The Kite Runner is filming in China. The book has been bought by Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks, and Marc Forster is directing a screenplay by David Benioff for UK release in early 2008.

Jeremy Robson, who set up shop as an independent publisher in 1974 and sold out to the Chrysalis Group in the late 1990s, has declared UDI. He has parted company with Anova, as Chrysalis Books became, and this week announced he is starting afresh, with the support of Laurence Orbach of the Quarto Publishing Group. His JRBooks will begin publishing next autumn, the list - as with Robson's glory days - reflecting the publisher's eclectic tastes, which include music, sport and humour. Maureen Lipman, a Robson stalwart, is among loyal authors likely to follow him. Robson was a key figure in London's jazz and poetry scene in the 1950s and 1960s and is himself a poet, whose friendships included the late Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

Here's a novel present idea for book-loving friends: a subscription to the London Library, founded in 1841. Its illustrious members have included Dickens, Woolf and Churchill. An annual fee of £180 (half for those under 24) entitles members to borrow from more than a million titles. More information at: www.londonlibrary.co.uk

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